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Down Syndrome – Facts and Myths

February 27, 2019 by optima

On 21 March 2019 it is World Down Syndrome day. We found some facts, myths and a step-by-step guide for parents curtsy of Down Syndrome South Africa.

Facts about Down syndrome

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder arising at the time of conception. There is an extra number 21 chromosome (Trisomy 21) which causes delays in physical and intellectual development. The exact cause of Down syndrome is currently unknown. It is not related to race, age, religion and socio-economic status and is one of the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorders. Down syndrome is characterised by a variety of unique features and a wide range of abilities in physical and cognitive areas of development. Intellectual ability cannot be assessed by the number of clinical signs and symptoms present.

The majority of people with Down syndrome fall in the mild to moderate range of intellectual disability. The incidence of Down syndrome is estimated to be one in every 1000 live births in developed countries and one in every 650 live births in developing countries. (In South Africa it is roughly one in every 500)

Women over the age of 35 are at a higher risk of having a child with Down syndrome. Nevertheless, more than 80% of children with Down syndrome are currently being born to mothers under the age of 35. Although it cannot be cured, people with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, appropriate medical care, early intervention, educational and vocational services. Due to advanced medical care, the majority of people born with Down syndrome today have a life expectancy of approximately fifty-five years. The person with Down syndrome has the same emotions and needs as any other person and deserves the same opportunities and care. The proper and accepted terminology for this disability is DOWN SYNDROME.

Down Syndrome


MYTH: If a member of your family has Down syndrome you are more likely to have a baby with the condition.
FACT: Untrue, 99% of cases of Down syndrome are not inherited.

MYTH: People with the condition are incontinent
FACT: The vast majority of children with Down syndrome use the toilet like everyone else

MYTH: People with Down syndrome do not live very long.
FACT: People with Down syndrome have an average life expectancy living up to 60 or 70 years

MYTH: Children with Down syndrome will not thrive outside special schools, and only go to school to make friends and not to learn
FACT: On the contrary, increasing numbers of children with Down syndrome attend mainstream schools, and go on to achieve employment

MYTH: Babies with Down syndrome cannot breast feed
FACT: Babies with Down syndrome can and do breast feed successfully

Please click on the following links for the brochure in your preferred language as well as the step by step guide.




STEP BY STEP Guide for parents.





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